I have been meaning to read a Maigret novel for, well, years. When I was a child I read most of Agatha Christie’s books, before moving on to Ngaio Marsh. I then lost interest in detective fiction, though in recent years I have picked up the odd P D James or Iain Rankin.
I deliberately bought an old Penguin edition, wanting to hark back to the green volumes that I associated with detective novels many years ago.
This was actually a very enjoyable read but the denouement was disappointing. Maigret is a great character and the description of 1950s France is affectionate and evocative. The basic story is that he has to go to the island of Porquerolles off the south coast of France when an idler is murdered after making claims that Maigret is his friend. He has in tow an English detective, sent from Scotland Yard to observe his famous methods. After a bit of wine drinking and sunbathing, they solve the mystery and the obvious suspects are arrested.
The evocation of Porquerolles is really vivid and intriguing. But Simenon just lets the Englishman’s role fade away. I was expecting some irony or surprise but it didn’t come. And the arrest of the murderer was too quick and perfunctory.
But it gave me an appetite for more Maigret, for sure.